My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I needed to smell the roses a little. I hope you will too.
Spring is such a wonderful time in Wisconsin. While this spring has opened under abnormal conditions for the people of Wisconsin, nature pays no attention to the travails of humans. The days are lengthening. The days are getting warmer. Critters are emerging. Plants are greening. The long, dark days of winter are coming to an end.
As a child of warmer climes, it took me a while to fully appreciate spring for all of its glory. The boundary between winter and summer in warm-weather climates is often crossed with little notice and even less regard. Spring is more of a notion than a season. It is like something you heard as a child and vaguely remember.
In Wisconsin, spring is the welcoming of a new beginning. It is filled with hope and promise. After months of cold, big coats, ice, dead car batteries, chapped lips, sore joints, dirty snow piles, tired backs, and all of the things that make winter unbearable once the novelty of that first snowfall wears off, spring in Wisconsin is that first ray of warm sun lighting your face after a long, dark night.
March and April are interesting, and sometimes exasperating, months in Wisconsin. Each beautiful sunny day seems to be balanced by a cold night. Every week brings with it the threat of an early-spring thunderstorm or a late-winter blizzard. But gradually, slowly, like a flower opening, spring finds its way and crowds out the winter gloom.
One of the things I love about spring is how all of us embrace it. The sidewalks and trails become filled with people. Smiles are abundant as people just enjoy the warming breezes and fragrant foliage. This weekend I heard the hum of a distant lawn mower as one of my neighbors gave his lawn its first trim of the year. It was probably an effort more of anticipation than utility, but I think all of us can appreciate that. Spring also ushers in the hustle and bustle of all of those chores that were waiting on better weather. Even without the current circumstances, the local hardware stores are busy with people buying supplies to complete their lists. Decks are getting stained. Trees and bushes are being trimmed. Houses are being painted inside and out. As people clean out their basements and garages, it looks like most people will forgo their annual spring rummage sale this year, but the summer rummage sales are going to be epic.
As we watch winter relent to the advances of spring every year, it is a reminder that the world is so much bigger than whatever is oppressing our minds at the moment. Before human foot trod the Kettle Moraine, the snow would melt to fill the streams and the green would fill the fields and bellies of animals. Long after we are gone, the same cycle will repeat. We are truly witnessing a speck of time in an eternity that is not ours. A little bit of humility and awe are not inappropriate at such a time.
Spring in Wisconsin reminds us of that economic principle of scarcity. The value of something in demand increases drastically when it is rare. This is why Wisconsinites enjoy spring so much more than people in warmer parts of the world. But while spring is short-lived, it is infinitely abundant for the few short weeks that it is here. Let us rejoice in it.
The sidewalks and trails become filled with people.
But it is time to put the bird food away. The starlings have arrived and the chipmunks are out.